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REL GENRL The Story Behind "Paul, the Apostle of Christ"
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  1. #1

    The Story Behind "Paul, the Apostle of Christ"

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-sto...ist-1523571752

    The Story Behind ‘Paul, Apostle of Christ’
    When he died in A.D. 67, there were 2,500 Christians. By 350 there were 34 million.

    By Charlotte Allen
    April 12, 2018 6:22 p.m. ET


    I went to see “Paul, Apostle of Christ”—the recently released film about the New Testament’s hardest-traveling Christian missionary—with low expectations. Faith-based films have fared poorly since Mel Gibson’s 2004 blockbuster, “The Passion of the Christ.” Typically they’re low-budget ventures produced with biblical fidelity but weak scripts, B-list acting and corner-cutting sets.

    The latest film’s $5 million production budget didn’t inspire much confidence, nor did its slow start. It begins with the aging Paul ( James Faulkner ) imprisoned in Rome, awaiting the beheading that Christian tradition accords him. All the excitement and spectacle of the story of Paul’s arrest is already in the past or well offstage. There’s no maniacal Nero blaming the Great Fire of A.D. 64, which burned down most of Rome, on the Christians to deflect suspicion that he himself set the fire. Nero’s tyrannies are strictly the stuff of fearful whispering in this movie. Though the film does feature some of the gruesome punishments Nero meted out on the hapless Christians: being burned alive as human torches or marched into the arena to be torn apart by animals.

    Nonetheless, writer-producer Andrew Hyatt has managed to put together a surprisingly effective—and affecting—movie. No doubt he was aware that his limited budget could not do justice to the panorama of Paul’s Mediterranean travels, his shipwreck off Malta, or his dramatic encounters with rulers and crowds. Mr. Hyatt chose to focus instead on the first Christians who formed Paul’s churches. In A.D. 67, when Paul met his death, historians have estimated that there were only about 2,500 Christians scattered in small communities throughout the Roman Empire. By the year 350 there were nearly 34 million of them, a majority of the empire’s population. Why did these early Christians thrive, despite being universally despised?

    Mr. Hyatt could have used as his guidebook Rodney Stark’s “The Rise of Christianity” (1996). Mr. Stark used social-science methodology, such as statistical arithmetic and the study of social networks, to argue that this explosive growth was owing neither to God’s miraculous favor nor to the heavy hand of Christian emperors such as Constantine. Christians took care of each other and, when possible, their pagan neighbors. They took seriously Jesus ’ injunction to feed the hungry and visit the sick, Mr. Stark argued. This made a huge difference in ancient cities, including Rome.

    Once you got away from the impressive monuments, Rome was essentially a hellhole of filth, stench, cultural chaos and casual cruelty. Most people were crammed into rickety tenements that were breeding grounds for disease. But as Mr. Stark points out, simply nursing and feeding the sick increased Christians’ survival odds and gave them a demographic edge over their pagan neighbors, who typically fled epidemics and often abandoned sick relatives to die.

    As Mr. Stark also pointed out, women enjoyed higher status in early Christian circles than elsewhere in classical society, which made them ready converts. As Paul’s letters showed, they were leaders and benefactors of churches, especially when it came to dispensing charity. Furthermore, Christian husbands were enjoined to love their wives and be faithful to them.

    Christian prohibitions against abortion and infanticide encouraged the survival of baby girls and dramatically increased Christian fertility over the long term once those girls grew up and married. Many took pagan husbands, whom they sometimes converted, and then raised their children as Christians—another demographic boost.

    All this is at the very heart of Mr. Hyatt’s understated movie, which takes place in the dank and clamorous Roman alleyways where slaves are bought and sold and mob violence rules. While Paul and Luke ( Jim Caviezel ) are central to the story, as important are Aquila ( John Lynch ) and Priscilla ( Joanne Whalley ). This affluent Christian married couple opened their house to alleviate some of the misery around them, feeding and sheltering families made homeless by the Great Fire.

    Luke uses his physician’s skills, not a miracle, to heal a dying erstwhile pagan girl and touch the hearts of her parents. The imprisoned Paul is an icon of the power of forgiveness, for he himself has been forgiven for murdering Christians in his youth. The Christians marked for death in the arena are terrified ordinary people who somehow summon the faith to trust in an eternal life they have never seen.

    Mr. Hyatt has dedicated his movie to “all who have been persecuted for their faith.” Today that resonates in large and small ways—from Islamic State’s violent repression of Christians to the controversy over wedding cakes in the U.S. It also should resonate with the future makers of faith-based movies: You don’t need $30 million to tell a powerful Christian tale.
    "The misfortune of many is the consolation of fools" Ancient proverb

  2. #2
    It is gruesome to think about Christians being brutally tortured like that, in front of roaring crowds which viewed that as entertainment.

    From what I understand, Nero also decided that the Sabbath should be Sunday, instead of Saturday.
    Freedom is the right to tell people what they do not want to hear. George Orwell

  3. #3
    Join Date
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    Illinois
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    I guess the writer of the script didn't bother to read the material in Acts 2. Only 2500 by AD67? The converts on the day of Pentecost must have died off pretty fast.
    "Freedom is not something to be secured in any one moment of time. We must struggle to preserve it every day. And freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction."
    -Ronald Reagan

  4. #4
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    James told Paul in Acts 21 there were many thousands of believers in Jerusalem. Acts 17:4 says a GREAT MULTITUDE believed in Thessalonica. Thats in just 2 cities.

    Mr. Hyatt could have used as his guidebook Rodney Stark’s “The Rise of Christianity” (1996). Mr. Stark used social-science methodology, such as statistical arithmetic and the study of social networks, to argue that this explosive growth was owing neither to God’s miraculous favor nor to the heavy hand of Christian emperors such as Constantine. Christians took care of each other and, when possible, their pagan neighbors. They took seriously Jesus ’ injunction to feed the hungry and visit the sick, Mr. Stark argued. This made a huge difference in ancient cities, including Rome.
    While its true that love is a very drawing factor in Christianity, there is no true salvation without the miraculous favor of God. No man comes to Jesus except the Father draws him.

    It was a pretty good movie, better than any of the ones for a long time.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by TammyinWI View Post
    It is gruesome to think about Christians being brutally tortured like that, in front of roaring crowds which viewed that as entertainment.

    From what I understand, Nero also decided that the Sabbath should be Sunday, instead of Saturday.
    Torturing the minority religions in front of a crowd has been a pastime well before the days of early Christians. Nimrod threw Abraham into a fire for his monotheist believes. So were Chananya, Mishael and Azarya (Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego) by Nebuchadnezzer. Daniel was thrown into the lion's pit.
    "Growing up leads to growing old and then to dying,
    And dying to me don't sound like all that much fun"

  6. #6
    I love the Bible. Before I became a born again believer I only had a very limited understanding of God’s Word. After salvation I have told many people that was as if God had turned on the light for me and I then began to understand.

    The Apostle Paul is one of my favorite people in scripture. The inspired writings have shown me what I am and what I am not. Romans 7:18 says “ For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.” (that is also me)
    Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 1:15, “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” I consider that because of my “flesh” I have become chief of sinners.

    I cling to Revelation 21: 4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
    5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.

  7. #7
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    Paul the Learned


    Paul lecturingLook at the Apostle Paul sitting in his Roman prison. What a career. This man has seen the risen Christ. He has been graciously granted a glimpse into the third heaven. He has heard ineffable declarations of God. He has suffered for the sake of God like no other, save the Lord Himself. As the apostle to the nations, he has inaugurated a new era of grace. He has completed the revelation of God, meaning that he has written the better part of the Greek Scriptures.

    Old man Paul. Mr. Scripture. He is suffering now in a Roman prison, the crown of his career. It has been graciously granted him to be counted worthy to suffer shame for the sake of the gospel and for the sake of his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

    Now this champion of faith is going to write one more letter, to his friend Timothy. Here is what one may have expected him to write:

    The Romans are ill-mannered, Timothy, as a lot. The one guarding me is a near exception, except he does not bathe. I have talked to him repeatedly about this, with little effect. Yet it is my purpose to suffer.

    This is the right way for me to end my career. I am happy to be counted worthy to suffer for His sake. Here I am, reflecting on it all now. I have seen our Savior, Timothy. I have seen things heavenly, things that a human being ought not see, such was their glory. Easy to get puffed up, but God has the solution to that: unwashed Romans.

    Am imparting my knowledge to them, as they certainly need it. I thought, no sense keeping this to myself. It has never been my habit. So it occurred to me nearly a fortnight ago: you're a man of leisure now, Paul. What better way to spend your days than teaching these barbarians; a few have good hearts. So I started in earnest last Tuesday. Amazingly, some are getting it. My guard, for instance. To God be the glory for that. I always give Him such. Others? They scoff. Others threaten to stop using deodorant, should I persist. It is an empty threat, for there is nothing like deodorant anywhere in the province. Their obvious bluffs have not put me off.

    But these were not Paul's words. These words suggest a Paul finished with his own knowledge, now hoping only to enlighten others. These words suggest a Wise-Man of the Mount, toward whom spiritual aspirants ascend.

    But, no. This is not the Paul of Scripture. Never did this man consider himself above further light.Paul reading Though he was an elder in the Lord, a favored man of God, a gifted ascertainer of divine wisdom, yet never was this man satisfied to draw a finish line for knowledge and truth.

    Here, instead, were among the last words of the greatest apostle who ever lived:

    When you come, bring the traveling cloak which I left in Troas with Carpus, and the scrolls, especially the vellums." (2 Timothy 4:13)

    He has seen the risen Lord ... yet he wants his books. He has seen the third heaven ... yet he wants his books. He has heard the declarations of God... yet he wants his books. He has written the better part of the Greek Scriptures ... yet he wants his books.

    Our conclusion is modest yet profound:

    Even a great apostle needs to read.

    All Things Copyright © 2001-2011 by Martin Zender, All Rights Reserved
    Back to The Writings of Martin Zender

  8. #8
    Join Date
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    12,499
    Quote Originally Posted by Troke View Post
    I went to see “Paul, Apostle of Christ”—the recently released film about the New Testament’s hardest-traveling Christian missionary—with low expectations. Faith-based films have fared poorly since Mel Gibson’s 2004 blockbuster, “The Passion of the Christ.” Typically they’re low-budget ventures produced with biblical fidelity but weak scripts, B-list acting and corner-cutting sets.
    Lord and butter, yes. "Low budget" is almost being kind with a lot of these. They come off with this incredible bargain-basement reek to them.

    They also have this remarkable tendency to get ham-fisted in the delivery of their message. It's presented in such a fashion that it gets awkward.

    I've tried to figure out how to break that particular problem and it still eludes me.

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